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Current Topic: Telecom Industry

Sabotage attacks knock out phone service
Topic: Telecom Industry 3:17 pm EDT, Apr 11, 2009

Police are hunting for vandals who chopped fiber-optic cables and killed landlines, cell phones and Internet service for tens of thousands of people in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties on Thursday.

Ten fiber-optic cables carrying were cut at four locations in the predawn darkness.

The first four fiber-optic cables were cut shortly before 1:30 a.m. in an underground vault along Monterey Highway north of Blossom Hill Road in south San Jose, police Sgt. Ronnie Lopez said. The cables belong to AT&T, and most of the service disruption came from this attack.

Four more underground cables, at least two of which belong to AT&T, were cut about two hours later at two locations near each other along Old County Road near Bing Street in San Carlos, authorities said. Two additional lines were sliced on Hayes Avenue in south San Jose.

In each case, the vandals had to pry up heavy manhole covers with a special tool, climb down a shaft and chop through heavy cables. Britton said the four cables cut in San Jose were about the width of a silver dollar and were encased in tough plastic sheath. One cable contained 360 fibers, and the other three had 48 fibers each.

At least 500 total fiber-optic strands were sliced, and each had to be painstakingly spliced back together, requiring hours of work.

A communications blackout for the biggest sneak in California history? Nope.. Looks more like a union dispute:

The vandalism comes as AT&T is in talks with the Communications Workers of America for a contract covering more than 80,000 employees, who have been working under their old deal since it expired at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. Union members voted in late March to authorize a strike but have not scheduled one.

Just peachy.

Sabotage attacks knock out phone service

Dubai City Guide: Update On Submarine Cable Cuts
Topic: Telecom Industry 1:36 pm EST, Jan 31, 2008

du has been informed that the cuts on both FLAG and SEA-ME-WE4 cables occurred at approx 12km north of Alexandria. This incident has impacted international and regional telecom services from operators across the Gulf, Egypt Middle East and India. The two cables are 400m apart at this point which suggests that a ship has dragged its anchor through both cables.

FLAG and SEA-ME-WE4 have activated their emergency repair process. Given the proximity of the two systems, it is likely that one ship will do both repairs. While no schedule is available yet for the repair, initial estimates indicate it will take at least two weeks to repair the FLAG cable.


Dubai City Guide: Update On Submarine Cable Cuts

YouTube - Stephen Colbert explains the whole AT&T thing!
Topic: Telecom Industry 3:14 pm EST, Jan 23, 2007

AT&T just bought Cingular? Cingular was already owned by AT&T? Bellsouth owns who?! Let Stephen Colbert help you figure this out!

Now you know! And knowing, is half the amortization.

YouTube - Stephen Colbert explains the whole AT&T thing!

Kevin Martin can suck it.
Topic: Telecom Industry 12:32 pm EST, Mar 23, 2006

Today, the Chairman FCC stated they support a so-called "tiered Internet" where telcos can change the priority of the packets for other peoples data depending on who pays them.

Martin told attendees at the TelecomNext show that telcos should be allowed to charge web sites whatever they want if those sites want adequate bandwidth.

He threw in his lot with AT&T, Verizon, and the other telcos, who are no doubt salivating at the prospect at charging whatever the market can bear.

If this sounds like extortion that because it is (See Meme). So who is this FCC Chairman and why is he favoring the telecoms?

Martin worked several years for Wiley, Rein, and Fielding, "Rated Top Telecommunications Lobbyists" according to an article on their website. The firm represents the Bells as well as Viacom/CBS, Gannett, Belo, Emmis, Gray Television, and Motorola.

Bush nominated the slimeball lobbyist to become the chairman of the FCC? Martin now chairs the organization he spent years lobbying? You can't get a better example of "Fox guarding the hen house." But all can't be lost! This little clip from the "tiered Internet" article was hopefuly:

[Martin] did throw a bone to those who favor so-called "net neutrality" -- the idea that telcos and other ISPs should not be allowed to limit services or bandwidth, or charge sites extra fees. He said that the FCC "has the authority necessary" to enforce network neutrality violations. He added that it had done so already, when it stepped in to stop an ISP from blocking Vonage VoIP service.

Wow, the FCC did seem to foster VOIP, and why would a guy in the telecom's pocket do that?... oh wait, Kevin Martin didn't do any such thing. Kevin Martin wasn't even AT the FCC when that decision was made. It was the previous chairman, Michael Powell.

Update - My mistake, Kevin Martin was at the FCC during the Vontage VOIP issue. He was serving as one of the five FCC Commissioners. I'm looking up now how he voted on that issue.

Kevin Martin can suck it.

Sprint + Asterisk = unlimited domestic phone calls for $68 a month
Topic: Telecom Industry 7:10 am EST, Mar 23, 2006

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to toll free America..

Sprint + Asterisk = unlimited domestic phone calls for $68 a month - AT&T reaches deal to buy BellSouth - Mar 5, 2006
Topic: Telecom Industry 7:07 pm EST, Mar  5, 2006

AT&T Inc. said Sunday it will acquire smaller rival BellSouth Corp. for $67 billion in stock, in a deal that goes a long way toward resurrecting the old Ma Bell telephone system.

"Change the logos back!" - AT&T reaches deal to buy BellSouth - Mar 5, 2006

Who really gets hurt by 'prioritization' of the Internet
Topic: Telecom Industry 9:04 am EST, Jan 25, 2006

Hear BellSouth's scream - "You sunk my battleship!" - as Noteworthy blows their airline analogy out of the water:

Would these new fees imposed by carriers alter the basic nature of the Internet by putting bumps and detours on the much ballyhooed information superhighway? No, say the telephone companies. Giving priority to a company that pays more, they say, is just offering another tier of service -- like an airline offering business as well as economy class. Network neutrality, they say, is a solution in search of a problem.

Any business practice that even vaguely resembles the airline industry should be met with a hefty dose of skepticism. Obviously, these telco spokespeople have some homework to do. Let me help:

Changes In Demand For Air Travel

Overall, passengers have become more empowered due to transparency in price and service information, and it appears that passengers are becoming more value conscious, demanding choice, and flexibility. However they are prepared to give up frills, choice or flexibility in return for lower prices. This is certainly very evident on short haul routes.

Making sense of the airline business

The key to survival, then, is an economic limbo dance that allows the carriers to keep seats as full as possible while driving costs as low as they’ll go — while knowing too much pressure on either end brings the risk of losing customers and scuttling your business. At this point, travelers are discovering that real, qualitative differences in service are ever harder to find on the shorter-haul flights that make up most domestic air traffic.

Even premium travelers have begun to flirt with low-cost options, and low-cost airlines have won at the expectations game, educating customers beforehand so they’re happy when they deplane.

This article by Hal Varian merits further study:

Differential Pricing and Efficiency, by Hal Varian

The classic prescription for economically efficient pricing---set price at marginal cost---is not relevant for technologies that exhibit the kinds of increasing returns to scale, large fixed costs, or economies of scope found in the telecommunications and information industries. The appropriate guiding principle in these contexts should be that the marginal willingness to pay should be equal to marginal cost. This condition for efficiency can be approximated using differential pricing, and will in fact, be a natural outcome of profit-seeking behavior.

Perhaps we should write to him and ask him to writ... [ Read More (0.3k in body) ]

Who really gets hurt by 'prioritization' of the Internet

Telephone ads through the decades
Topic: Telecom Industry 5:17 pm EDT, Jun 22, 2005

Quick journey through changing phone styles in the time before you owned your own phone.

Telephone ads through the decades

Verizon's Slim Deal
Topic: Telecom Industry 1:51 pm EDT, Apr 11, 2005

] "There can be no reason for the board to support an offer
] to MCI owners that is substantially inferior to what
] Verizon has just agreed to pay for a non-control block of
] stock," Miller said in the letter, which was made public
] late Saturday. "Shareholders would be outraged if the
] Board did less than insist that the identical terms be
] made available to all other owners. That, of course,
] implies a higher value than the $25.72 cash price Mr.
] Slim will receive, since he will have the use of that
] cash shortly, while other MCI owners would have to wait
] until closing if Verizon offered the same price,
] including the same effective call option on Verizon's
] stock. Our rough calculation of the present value of what
] Verizon agreed to pay Mr. Slim, including the call, is in
] excess of $27.00."

How crazy this all is.

Brief recap:
* Qwest makes generous offer to buy MCI. MCI says No.
* Verizon makes low offer to buy MCI. MCI says Yes.
* Shareholders say Qwest. MCI says No. Shareholders say "lawsuit".
* Verizon makes a slightly better offer ($23.10/share). MCI says Yes.
* Qwest makes more generous offer ($27.50/share). MCI says No. Shareholders say WTF
* Verizon makes deal to buy 13% stake from prominent billionare investor (make the takeover easier). Offers $25.72 plus an option. MCI says... nothing. Shareholders say WTF.

Why is this significant? This is MCI executives probably behaving badly. MCI, the company known as Worldcom. What a shock. Here are the forces in motion: MCI shareholders, post bankruptcy, are value players who saw a buyout as inevitable and lucrative. They are looking for the best price. Qwest wants to buy MCI for its customer list -- and needs to have it to survive, so it will pay whatever it takes. Verizon sees big market assets cheap. MCI execs see themselves without jobs if Qwest buys, and sweet offers of something from Verizon. So, 20% premium be damned.

I think it was in really bad taste for Verizon to make this side offer. They want a voting block (13% is as big as they can get before the poison pills) to help the merger. But they can't sweet talk an investor out of an equity position -- not someone who lost in the debt-equity conversion post-scandal. So they had to make a reasonably attractive offer. Not like the one for the rest of the company.

It will be fun to watch the justifications for why they have a higher price for a non-majority share than the company. Or how the MCI people continue to say it is the best deal they could get for the company, despite the obvious evidence that they are selling it cheaper than the buyer is willing to pay. Gross.

Verizon's Slim Deal

Cook Report | September-October 2004
Topic: Telecom Industry 3:35 pm EDT, Jul 24, 2004

Most Carriers are trapped. They are faced with equally unpalatable choices: "lose-if-you-win" and "lose-if-you-lose."

Anyone looking to understand the economic future of the telecom industry must begin to look at global as well as regional assumptions about culture, technology policy and economics.

Over the last three decades, Western technologists have designed vast, complex greenfield systems like the Public Internet. For a while they built and people came. As Moore's Law turned their products into commodities, they found themselves too top heavy to compete.

The IT and telecom companies of Europe and North America are locked in to a complex systems concept frame of mind from which they are unlikely to escape.

In reviewing both the marketing and profit and loss lessons of the last quarter of the last century, from automobiles to fine china to radio to agriculture, we find that the adoption of "one size fits all" economies of scale lead irreversibly to "production cost below sales price" commodities that either require governmental subsidies or an entire re-thinking of the system's goals.

Intelligence is moving to the edges and the edges are found on the Asian mainland.

Cook Report | September-October 2004

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